Local Summer STEM Options Open Up for Middle and High Schoolers

This post is in partnership with Science from Scientists

When my kids were young, our summer was scheduled by February. Now that my kids are a little older, with more summer options and their strong desire to do nothing but stare at screens all day, I’m finding that it’s mid-May and almost nothing has been booked. I know I’m not alone in this.

My in-action had a reason – we were on hold while my high schooler awaited decisions on program acceptances and I did sign my middle schooler up for a week of lacrosse camp, but that turns out to be three days, not a week, and smack dab in the middle of July, complicating other plans. Still, here I am in mid-May, grappling with the summer puzzle.

 

My middle schooler is at that stage where he needs something to do – partially because he gets bored and needs a challenge, but he’s still young enough that we need the childcare because if left alone, it would be a summer of non-stop Fortnite and Gatorade. His dream, my nightmare.

 

We’re trying something new this year that is a step up from the kid camps of previous summers, it’s a STEM-focused program taught by actual scientists at Foothill College. It’s designed for middle and high school students, and it’s built around hands-on projects that I know will get him engaged.

 

Science from Scientists is behind the Foothill summer program to get kids excited about scientific concepts. These classes are taught by scientists, putting the kids in direct contact with those most knowledgeable and passionate about STEM subjects.

 

Want to learn about aquaponics? They have that. (For me, that would start with “What is aquaponics?”) Nanotech? Yep, they have that, too.

 

My son is interested in coding (for games, of course!) and codebreaking, but his overall STEM interest is generalized. He likes a little of this and a little of that, without a strong drive in one area. There is a STEM Explorer camp that fits right into that. During the week, kids will perform a forensic lab analysis, build and test a model Mars Rover, work on codebreaking, and conduct an ecosystem observation.

 

STEM Explorer camp is designed for rising 6-8th graders, as are aquaponics, nanotechnology, roller coaster science, Arduinos, and Scratch, and with deeper focused programs on Java, 3D modeling, biotechnology, forensic technology, chemistry, MATLab, and more, aimed at high schoolers. The programs run mid-June through July.

 

There’s something about the location, too, being at a community college instead of the local elementary school, that makes this feel bigger to my son. It’s a step up in maturity.

 

A little more about Science from Scientists: it’s a nonprofit out of Boston that supports families and teachers with lesson plans, suggestions for home activities, science fair help, an online show, and more by providing role models for students, supplementing school science activities, giving parents easy ways to get involved in encouraging science learning, and making STEM cool for kids.

 

We’re lucky to live in an area where STEM is cool, but that doesn’t mean it’s always easy to find an entry point for kids who are interested, but not necessarily strongly driven. Summer camp is an easy, low-risk place to start. Our family outlook has been that summer is a time to try something different. If it clicks, awesome! If it doesn’t, then they learned something, too, which may be that an activity or subject isn’t for them.

 

Disclaimer: We were not paid for this post, but my son will be attending one week of camp for free to test the program. A second post with his feedback will follow this summer. 

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